Will Mark Cuban's nightmare come true?
It's the sports-related aspects, after all, that are the real bummer. For one, without an NBA season, who knows if the former "Dancing with the Stars" contestant is keeping up his conditioning work on the stair machine outside the Mavs' locker room that he rigorously and religiously attacks prior to every home game?
"I still can't believe that we're not going to have a season [in the NBA]. I can't see us not playing," Nowitzki told Stein. "But if the lockout still stays strong, I've got a decision to make."
The owner of the first-time NBA champs has been and probably always will be one of the more vocal critics of NBA players participating on national teams during the offseason. Simply, Cuban doesn't want a player he pays millions of dollars to get injured while playing for another team. So, just the thought of Nowitzki shooting one-legged fallaways for Real Madrid or Germany's Bayern Munich surely makes Cuban wig out like Kramer hearing Mary Hart's voice.
Already, examples of NBA players sustaining injury overseas are popping up. J.R. Smith, the acerbic Denver Nuggets shooting guard, injured his knee, at first believed to be quite serious, playing for a Chinese team Sunday. On Tuesday, Turkish media reported that Cleveland Cavaliers center Semih Erden broke his left thumb and will be out at least two months.
Imagine Cuban's angst and the Mavs' misfortune if their delayed title defense -- assuming a partial season is salvaged -- were to begin with Nowitzki on the shelf? Does 2-7 with a sprained right knee ring a bell?
Few players have proved more durable than Nowitzki over his 13 NBA seasons. Still, he has a history of ankle sprains and he suffered a knee sprain last season that knocked him out of nine hard-to-swallow contests. While playing for Germany in this summer's Olympic qualifying tournament, he re-injured his left middle finger that sustained a torn tendon in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
Injuries happen. One can occur just as easily, or as freakishly, during an NBA game or a highly competitive and physical Euro-league game or a recreational charity exhibition that players are staging across the country.
As long as the lockout persists, Nowitzki can do as he pleases and he says he will play ball somewhere.
At that point, Cuban will just have to cross his fingers, and maybe ask for a more permanent spot on the ET anchor desk.
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Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss Mark Cuban's comments from Las Vegas about the Mavericks' offseason, how he sees the team without Dwight Howard and more.
Play Podcast Marc Stein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why the Mavericks didn't want to match Cleveland's offer to Andrew Bynum, what's next for the Mavs and the possibility of Dirk Nowitzki ending his career elsewhere.
Play Podcast Jeff Platt fires quick-hitters at Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon in the weekly sports standoff about Andrew Bynum, the Mavs' current backcourt, a potential Nelson Cruz suspension and more.
Play Podcast ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why she thinks Andrew Bynum got a bad rap in Los Angeles and how he would fit in with the Mavericks.
Play Podcast Buy, sell or hold? If Dwight Howard goes to another team, what are the Mavs' options? The guys take a look at a list of potential fallback options.
Play Podcast ESPN's Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest news on the Mavericks' meeting with Dwight Howard.